Volkswagen has reported a bumper year with net profits more than doubling to 15.8 billion euros as it delivered a record number of vehicles.
However there were ominous signs towards the end of the year.
The world’s second-largest carmaker posted an unexpected decline in fourth-quarter operating profit. It slipped 0.9 percent to 2.29 billion euros
Sales dropped off leaving VW with nearly 100,000 unsold vehicles.
The group’s cash pile, needed to fund the possible takeover of Porsche’s sports car business this year, shrank to 17 billion euros at the end of December from over 21 billion three months earlier.
The results come after Europe’s second largest carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen pledged to sell key assets and cut more costs after its automotive business swung to an operating loss.
The French company is now in talks with General Motors’ loss-making European division Opel/Vauxhall because it has a high exposure to the shrinking European market, unlike Volkswagen.
However the Q4 figures showed VW is not entirely immune to the economic downturn in its home region despite its strong market position in the relatively dynamic economies of Asia and Latin America.